Powerful Earthquake Off the Coast of Chile Triggers a Tsunami

On Tuesday evening, an 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern Chile, triggering a tsunami.

The coastal areas were evacuated shortly after the quake, which hit around 6 pm local time. The first wave from the tsunami hit Chile's northern coast within 45 minutes of the quake, and a warning is in effect for the coast of South and Central America.

The Guardian reports that waves are already battering the coast:

First waves hitting northern coast around eight feet high. Fears that next round of waves could be worse. Evacuation order for huge swaths of Northern Chile to be in effect throughout the night. Traffic jams as citizens ignore pleas to evacuate on foot.

According to the AP, a large wave is expected to hit islands in the Juan Fernandez archipelago, including Robinson Crusoe island, shortly before midnight.

According to the LA Times, the earthquake is not expected to affect California beyond a possible "small increase in wave height" less than a foot.

UPDATE 12:17 am: A tsunami advisory has been issued for Hawaii, effective at 5:45 pm.

In Chile, there are currently five confirmed dead.

[image via USGS]